I see the golden leaves
fluttering in frozen wind,
I feel an empty sky,
the circumference of joy is hard to find.
I catch the cardinal’s red flash
under scattered bits of sun,
I know the cracking cold,
come cold winter, come.
This winter lasts, but our time moves steadily from its first unfolding,
and we find ourselves in the already but not yet
of the journey. Green plants push through dirt
beneath the frozen snow. Sunlight shines through windows
covered with a long winter’s filmy grime. We wait for warmth
and wait for wisdom. We are in Easter’s Advent, praying, listening.
The cardinals have returned to the barren forsythia, looking, flitting
from branch to twig to ground, searching.
Perhaps we are a nesting pair, arriving, looking, searching,
putting all energy into choosing, collecting, building, and then,
hoping. What will this next spring surprise us with? A lush garden,
a field of wildflowers? A new truth?
For now silence may fall with the snow
while we remain steadfast and full of hope.
I hear the cardinal
sound his call, his metallic “chip, chip, chip!”
I wonder whom he is warning off,
or what he is challenging.
I peer up at the nest,
notice the shredded, grimy bits of plastic.
I think about how nothing is perfect,
yet we are challenged to reach perfection.
I touch the branch,
reaching up from the step ladder, and pull down.
It is empty. No shells. No feathers.
Desolate and lonely.